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2011 Catholic University Baseball Team Advances to NCAA Regionals to Uphold Tradition of Excellence
The Cardinal Baseball tradition is proud to include famous ties to the New York Yankees. Brian Cashman, currently in his 16th year as Vice President and General Manager of the 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009 World Series Champion New York Yankees, was a standout second baseman under Coach Natoli from 1985-1989. Former New York Yankee Wally Pipp, who is best remembered as the player Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig replaced at first base to begin his streak of 2.130 consecutive games, studied architecture and played baseball at Catholic University from 1911-1913.
Head Coach Ross Natoli, in his 26th season at Catholic University, has built the Cardinals into one of the most respected and competitive NCAA Division III programs in the East. He has led CUA to an average of 20 or more victories over the past 11 years and in 2008 picked up his 400th career victory. In 2008, the Cardinals won the inaugural Landmark Conference Championship and finished the season with a 10 game winning streak en route to a 26-13-1 overall record. The Cardinals repeated as Landmark Conference Champions in 2009, winning 10 of their last 12 games including an 11-3 victory vs The Merchant Marine Academy in the Landmark Championship game, and placing 6 players on the 2009 All-Landmark Conference team.
Under Natoli's direction, the Cardinals' on-field personality reflects his own philosophy that perseverance, team unity and a commitment to academic and athletic excellence form the foundation for a successful program. He continues to strive to develop his teams with the goal of being consistent contenders for NCAA tournament play in the future while emphasizing the importance of academic success in the classroom throughout their careers. 14 members of his 2009 team achieved a cumulative or spring semester GPA of 3.0 or above.
A native Washingtonian, Natoli was a standout outfielder at cross-town rival George Washington University, from which he earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1981. After playing for two teams that advanced to NCAA Division I tournaments (1977, 1979), he served as the Colonials' top assistant coach from 1981-1984. He became the Cards' head coach in the fall of 1985, and is also widely recognized for founding and directing the highly regarded Ross Natoli Instructional Baseball Camps & Clinics for youth in the Washington metropolitan area.
Throughout his career, Natoli has continually upgraded CUA's baseball facilities, which are widely considered to be among the finest in the region. State-of-the-art walk-in dugouts, indoor and outdoor batting cages, bullpens, practice pitching mounds and a quality playing surface are among the key facility components that provide an environment conducive to productive practice and exciting games. In the fall of 2000, Natoli's significant fundraising efforts produced the baseball field's first electronic scoreboard. It coincided with the dedication of Robert J. Talbot Field, named for the former CUA athletic director, Hall of Famer and baseball coach, who in 1977 led the "Cardiac Cardinals" to the NCAA Division I playoffs.
Over the past 5 years, Natoli has worked closely with the current athletic administration and CUA's Office of Development in managing the Cardinal's Competitive Edge Campaign, a major fundraising initiative designed to considerably upgrade the entire CUA athletic complex. Through the generous contributions of over 250 alumni, several major baseball facility enhancements have recently come to fruition. These include a newly resurfaced, state-of-the-art infield installed by the Ripken Design Group, 300 stadium-style chair-back seats, a modern press box, sound system, warning track, fencing renovations, full infield tarp, professional quality bullpens and upgraded outdoor batting cages. Natoli feels that the Cardinals' current playing and practice facilities are among the finest in all of NCAA Division 3 baseball.
Natoli and his wife, Nancy, live in Silver Spring, Md., with their 17-year-old twin daughters, Rachel and Rebecca, and 15 year-old son, Nicholas.
John Nolan begins his third year with the Cardinals after a successful career playing Division I baseball. While at CUA the team managed to win it's first Landmark Conference Championship, John also had a d3baseball.com honorable mention All-American in 2008 in Mike Bzozowski. John played at St. Bonaventure University from 2004-2006, graduated with Bachelor's in History, and a member of 2004 Atlantic 10 Champs and NCAA Regional participant. At Chantilly High School, Nolan was all-district with a 4-4 record and 45 strikeouts in 47 innings. He also lettered in cross country and track and field. Nolan will coach the pitchers this season for CUA. He resides in Fairfax, Va., and will finish a Master's Degree in May at George Mason University. In addtion he will manage the Fairfax Nationals of the Clark Griffith Collegiate Baseball League in the summer of 2009 and is a pitching instructor at the Virginia Baseball Club.
Matt Ferrari joins the Cardinals after spending the past four seasons as a varsity assistant coach at Pittsford Sutherland High School in Rochester, New York. During that span, Ferrari helped guide the Knights to an overall record of 82 - 22 (.788), three Section V championships, four Monroe County League titles, and one New York State Final Four appearance.
Ferrari is versed in all phases of the game and brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience to the Cardinal's program. He currently serves as the Cardinal's lead outfield, baserunning, strength and conditioning, and 1st base coach. His additional responsibilities include extensive involvement in the Cardinal's recruiting efforts and passing on his baseball expertise through his role as a lead instructor in CUA's future prospects and instructional youth baseball camps.
A 2005 graduate of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, Ferrari was a four-year starting outfielder. During his senior season, Ferrari captained the Thoroughbreds to their most successful season in program history with a record of 28 - 14, capturing the Liberty League Conference Championship and an appearance in the NCAA New York Regional Division III tournament.
At Skidmore, Ferrari earned All-Liberty League honors twice, was a member of the Liberty League All-Academic Team three times, and earned American Baseball Coaches Association All-New York Regional honors twice. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in management and business.
Ferrari is currently enrolled at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and has spent time studying at the University of Oxford in England. He will graduate in May with a Masters in Business Administration and resides in northwest Washington D.C.
Jonas Fester is in his first season as an assistant on the Cardinals coaching staff. Fester came to CUA from Johns Hopkins University where he served as the team's hitting, infield, and strength and conditioning coach for the past two seasons. Hopkins advanced to the College World Series last season for the second time in the last three years. Fester played his collegiate baseball at Johns Hopkins from 2005-2008. He is the first person in Hopkins history to reach the College World Series as a player and as a coach.
Fester was a four-year varsity player at JHU, starting at shortstop in his final three seasons. He earned first team All-American honors, was a two-time First Team All-Centennial selection and earned Third Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American honors during his career.
Fester graduated from Johns Hopkins in 2008 with a degree in political science. Upon graduation, he played independent baseball with the Fort Worth Cats of the American Association and the Texarkana Gunslingers of the Continental League.